Derisking Africa’s Land-Based Climate Investment Landscape: BenBen, Oko Forests, and Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Collaborate to Enhance Land Tenure Security in Carbon Credit Projects

Emmanuel B. Noah Jr.
3 min readApr 25, 2023

--

BenBen and Oko Forests are collaborating with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to explore the role of blockchain technology in securing land and tree tenure within carbon credit investments in Ghana. The collaboration is being facilitated through the FCDO’s Frontiers Livestreaming (FTL) Programme, which is run by the FCDO Research and Evidence (RED) Innovation and Technology Hub.

The two organizations are working with the FCDO to explore the use of blockchain technology in de-risking and safeguarding investments into carbon credit projects in Africa.

Smallholder farmers produce a third of the world’s food supply, yet receive only 1.7% in global climate investments. In Africa alone, this represents over 33 million smallholder farmers and 600 million hectares of arable land that are left out of the global climate investment market space. Compounded with near-zero transparency on land rights, and unaligned interests between community land owners and investors, the $23 billion African agricultural carbon finance market has largely been branded as high-risk, and non-transparent to investors.

This partnership represents a significant step forward in the use of digital technologies to safeguard smallholder farmer agri-carbon investments in Ghana.

The FTL Programme, run by the FCDO Research and Evidence (RED) Innovation and Technology Hub, is supporting BenBen and Oko Forests in developing a case study for the application of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and web3 technologies in reducing the land rights risks pertaining to climate investments in customary-owned agricultural land in Ghana.

We are excited to be working with the FCDO on this important initiative,” said Mr. Noah, CEO of BenBen.”We believe that our solution has the potential to greatly benefit smallholder farmers, their respective communities as well as carbon credit investors by providing tamper-proof, auditable, and transparent records of project-level tree tenure and land-use rights. Our aim is to empower land-rights holders with legal proof and administrative evidence of their rights.” He added.

The collaboration seeks to explore the efficacy of Keva — BenBen’s land rights MRV technology platform in de-risking investments over Oko Forest’s approximately 3000-hectare agri-carbon credits project area. By leveraging blockchain protocols for facilitating carbon credit project land governance and carbon credit pay-out processes, Keva is able to provide agri-carbon market actors access to transparent, and trusted land tenure profiles and semi-annual status updates in African agri-carbon projects.

CEO of Oko Forests, Kofi Debrah said:

“This collaboration with BenBen and the FCDO allows us to explore new ways of using technology to benefit smallholder farmers and make climate investments in Africa more attractive and secure”

By consolidating tree ownership rights, land-use rights, and land governance decisions into a single publicly accessible layer, Keva aims to eliminate land ownership risk premiums and facilitate the equitable distribution of economic returns to potentially over 33 million smallholder farmers in Africa.

The FTL programme is committed to supporting the development and implementation of innovative solutions for addressing global challenges, and BenBen and Oko Forests’ collaboration fits within this mission.

“We believe that their solution has the potential to enhance land-rights transparency and reduce risk in the African agri-carbon market, ultimately benefiting smallholder farmers and carbon credit investors. We look forward to supporting their work and seeing the impact it can have on the ground.” said Georgina Barker, Ghana Forest and Agriculture Advisor, FCDO.

This collaboration is a major step forward in enhancing Africa’s land-based climate investment landscape and has the potential to revolutionize the way in which smallholder farmer agri-carbon projects are sourced, funded and managed. We look forward to seeing the impact and success of this innovative partnership in promoting a more secure and transparent investment landscape in Africa.

Interested parties are invited to get in touch at www.benben.global to collaborate or to work with us.

EDITOR’S NOTE

About BenBen

BenBen is a pioneering land rights technology startup that develops blockchain-based land rights measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) solutions for Africa’s land investment sector.

About Oko Forests

Oko Forests is an environmentally and socially conscious for-profit company that develops value-added regenerative agroforestry systems.

--

--

Emmanuel B. Noah Jr.

CEO @BenBen | Msc. Blockchain & DLTs @UMalta | Building Tech Products for Unlocking Africa's USD 8.5 Tn Land Investment Sector